Patients’ food hopes dashed by fire alarm toaster

Toast is causing a problem at the Western General.

Toast is causing a problem at the Western General.

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YOU can’t beat a slice of hot toast with a cup of tea in the morning.

But some patients at the Western General are having to go without – because a toaster kept setting off the fire alarm.

Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. Picture: Cate Gillon

Western General Hospital, Edinburgh. Picture: Cate Gillon

Staff in the breast unit at the hospital are having to refuse patients’ requests for toast after bosses took the device away.

Instead, they have been offered a selection of cold sandwiches if they felt peckish between meal times and after operations.

One patient, who asked not to be named, said it was a “shame” that staff “couldn’t be trusted with a toaster” any more.

“When you come round from an op you can’t really face much in the way of food and a wee bit of toast is perfect,” said the patient. “It’s easy to digest.

Every other time I’ve been in hospital someone can rustle up toast in a few minutes

Disgruntled patient

“Every other time I’ve been in hospital someone on the ward can rustle up toast in a few minutes.

“I was told they couldn’t do it any more as they had been banned from using toasters because they’d caused too many fire alarms.

“Instead I got a not great cold sandwich and all I could do was pick off a few bits of the bread.

“It’s a bit of a shame that a comforting tradition has gone down the tubes because highly-trained hospital staff can’t be trusted with a toaster.”

NHS Lothian said staff had not been banned from making toast for patients, but said it was no longer “routinely available” in the breast unit.

Chris Stirling, site director at the Western General Hospital, said: “Patient experiences and the quality of the clinical treatment they receive whilst in our care is of the utmost importance to us.

“Making toast has not been banned at the Western General Hospital, however one toaster was recently removed from the breast unit due to fire safety issues.

“Toast, therefore, is not 
routinely available on the breast unit, however in view of this patient feedback we will consider options for providing it when 
requested.”

In 2010, new mothers at a hospital in Glasgow were no longer offered toast because the toasters were classed as a fire hazard.

Instead, staff at Southern General Hospital were given a roll, cereal or biscuits after their labour.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the change was made as toasters were setting off the fire alarms.

Earlier this year it was reported that across the UK, hospitals were forced to pay out nearly £200,000 for false fire alarms, caused by burnt toast, steam and dust.

Some hospitals were visited several times a week for false alarms, which automatically trigger a call to the emergency services. Last month, the Evening News told how dirty mattresses had been found at the Western General Hospital despite an inspection warning the health facility had “appalling” hygiene six months 
earlier.

A report in January rated cleanliness levels as “poor” and made a series of recommendations after finding dirty equipment, overcrowded wards and hand gels wrongly removed.

newsen@edinburghnews.com